To consider the actual income and expenditure for 2018/19, budget variances, contributions to and from reserves and an update to the Capital Programme for carry forwards and other changes.
The Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder presented the Revenue and Capital Outturn 2018/19 report which set out the Council’s financial performance for 2018/19 and the impact on reserves. In concluding his report, the Portfolio Holder expressed his view that despite the complicated situation surrounding the budgets, the hard work of the Finance Team in highlighting the upcoming challenges would allow the Management Team to take corrective action.
In answering questions raised by the Committee, the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder informed the Committee that the downturn in income from Planning Enforcement was mainly attributed to a decrease in the number and nature of planning applications and not to ongoing staffing issues. Furthermore, with regards to Ulverston Town Hall, he highlighted that the act of transfer had been late in the last financial year and, combined with a late change in the related grant conditions, had meant that the spending would be carried over into the current financial year. In addition, the Portfolio Holder answered a question on Ulverston Leisure Centre and highlighted to Members that Cabinet Members had been encouraged to look for external sources of funding for the leisure centre. The Chairman took the opportunity to request that an update on the Building Control deficit be brought to the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee Meeting.
The Director of Strategy, Innovation and Resources confirmed Councillor Jarvis’ response to a question on Ulverston Town Hall and added that all agreements are in place between South Lakeland District Council and South Lakes Housing.
Continuing his responses to Members’ questions, the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder informed the Committee that the overspend in kerbside recycling was mainly attributed to incorrect assumptions being made on staffing, alongside lower income from the sale of recycling materials than expected and not due to an underlying inefficiency.
The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) responded to a question on the Development Control deficit and highlighted that this had been down to fewer planning applications and fewer enforcement cases in the last financial year.
In responding to a question on the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) write off the Finance and Resources Portfolio Holder informed Members that this had been down to the implementation of new software, which had highlighted debts that had become unrecoverable due to a rule change made by the DWP. The Finance Lead Specialist (Section 151 Officer) added to the Portfolio Holder’s response by informing the Committee that during the lifetime of a housing benefit claim, issues could come to light and, as a result of the change in circumstances, it was now inappropriate to reclaim the money from the resident as it had been an error on the DWP’s part. She advised the Committee that work was in progress to understand the issue in order to assure that it would not happen again. She undertook to include an update on the explanation of the DWP issue in the Quarter One Financial Monitoring Report which would be presented at the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting.
RESOLVED – That
(1) the outturn figures be noted; and
(2) the comments made by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee be taken forward as appropriate for consideration by Cabinet.